The net-zero City cabin belongs to a conservationist dedicated to preserving forests, who wanted to live in a tiny forest in the heart of Seattle. Designed by Olson Kundig, the staggered footprint of the home allows the owner to be immersed in the garden with views of dense landscaping, with the centrally located open plan living spaces.
The goal of the home was for net-zero energy use so the sustainability inclusions include 8.4kW photovoltaic array, air to water heat pump, passive solar design strategies to maximise natural light and ventilation, concrete flooring with its high thermal mass to store solar energy during the day and radiate it as heating at night, along with low energy appliances and water efficient plumbing fixtures.
Timber is the predominant material used inside and outside the home, providing a welcoming and cabin-like feel. Reclaimed fir from a fruit storage warehouse was used to clad the facade which will weather and age over time with minimal need for maintenance. The structural elements are timber plus there’s timber storage and unstained plywood sheeting used to line walls and ceilings. The kitchen island bench makes a stunning feature of a slab of douglas fir, carbon dated to be 2,700 years old and unearthed in the Skagit Valley in Washington. What an wonderful piece of natural history to have inside your home!
Inspired by the ochre colours in the client’s extensive Native American art collection, the concrete flooring is tinted in a custom ochre hue which further adds to the home’s warm and inviting interior.
A green sedum roof tops the lower volume, improving the home’s thermal performance. Plants help to absorb the sun’s energy therefore reducing the temperature of the roof in summer, whilst adding to the home’s insulation which lowers heating and cooling requirements. A green roof will also help control excess rainwater runoff, lessening the volume of water released into stormwater pipes. Plus a green sedum roof looks fantastic!
– Net-zero energy use
– Passive solar design strategies to maximise natural light and ventilation
– 8.4kW photovoltaic array
– Air to water heat pump
– Tinted concrete floor for thermal mass
– Reclaimed fir exterior cladding and some interior wall lining, to weather naturally with minimal maintenance
– Unstained plywood used for wall and ceiling lining
– Timber framed windows and doors
– Timber structural elements
– Extensive glazing for natural lighting
– Sedum green roof
– Low energy appliances
– Water efficient plumbing fixtures
– Ceiling fans used for cooling
The client wanted to feel like she was living in the wilderness when, in fact, her home is on a regular-sized urban neighborhood lot.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.